1983 Stalker

Of the original 13, Stalker is amongst the most popular. He was a force in the comics, he did things in the original Cartoon mini-series, and he’s also one of the top 3 figures of the first year of G.I. Joe, where it usually just comes down to personal taste if you like him more than Rock ‘N Roll or Flash.


Stalker’s a very striking figure, he’s got the camouflage outfit, the beret and moustache, which separate him from the rest of the early Joes. While he’s constructed out of a pretty common recipe, he was given a camouflage pattern that was unique to him, plus he was also cast in the light green only two other figures were cast in, in 1982. I’ve always wished that the colouring used on Stalker, Zap and Steeler was the main colouring for the 1982 series, it’s more eye-catching, and always seemed a little more realistic to me, not for any actual military reasoning, it’s more the fact it’s a colour of clothing I’d seen in person. In regards to the use of this colour on Stalker, I’ve noticed a few shading variations amongst the Stalkers I own, and that makes a lot of sense, because this was a figure that was in production for about 4 years (82-84 in the US, 85 and 86 in the UK and Japan).

This figure has always screamed “squad leader” to me. Sure the media portrayals have helped, but the figure itself just has a little extra sense of competency to me. The camouflage outfit, while everyone else is wearing plain gear, always stuck out to me. I really like the Stalker head sculpt, too. It’s unique with the beret, and the moustache looks quite smart, and was a fashionable form a facial hair amongst black men in the late 70s and early 80s.

Stalker’s gun is a pretty nice one, the design is solid, and the handle wasn’t too much of a thumb killer. It’s referred to as a “M-32 Pulverizer”, which doesn’t exist, but Stalker’s gun isn’t fictional. I’d remember doing a google search on it once, and found the real life gun it was based on, but of course didn’t save it. Later on I wound up with a scan of a gun magazine from a long time ago where it showed the Danish “Madsen M-50” Submachine gun, which looked just like Stalker’s gun. It could be purchased for $85! While I’m in no way a gun nut, I do quite enjoy the fact that a lot of the G.I. Joe weapons were based off of real designs.

He was also the first African American character, which is notable, because he wasn’t a token, he was portrayed as the leader of missions a lot of the time. G.I. Joe handled the diversity of it’s characters pretty well, it existed, but it wasn’t something any attention was diverted to. Releasing a black character every year was obviously a checkmark Hasbro had on their yearly list, I’m pretty sure they also had a check mark for “Good guy wearing a mask”.

Nowadays there’s such a push for the appearance of inclusion, that quality has become one of the things that’s really taken a back seat. This push has highlighted one of the great aspects of G.I. Joe to me, in that the inclusion existed, but it wasn’t done as a way to get a pat on the back. To me it appears more as a natural extension of the fact that members of every colour and creed wind up in the American War Machine.


The team aspect of the 1982 figures is one thing that I feel is quite important to the figures as a whole, and my personal tastes when choosing figures for photographs, so because of this I’ve often toyed around with the idea of the classic 82 figures as being the Joe team, with the 83-84 characters being a separate team with objectives going after specified terrorists (IE bad guys without the COBRA Emblem, like Zartan or Destro.) It’s one of those things where I don’t actually have the motivation to extrapolate on, and the online G.I. Joe realm, has moved past the days of serialized Dio Stories. I think the death of Dio Stories, probably has something to do with fact that nowadays there’s various outlets for G.I. Joe photography, which wasn’t so much the case in 2002. When anybody can take a picture and post it within seconds, the idea of going to the amount of work for a Dio Story is pretty laughable.

However the death of Dio Stories, also led to a demise in people having hyper detailed internal universes. In some ways there’s nothing about that I miss, as a lot of those were just action movie plots with a G.I. Joe filter applied, but at the same time there’d always be some interesting ideas, and it was also a topic that people would get really excited about and share there own. A little creative conversation is a lot more interesting to me, than learning about people driving around attempting to buy action figures.

Though, if I were to follow up that separate Commando units, idea; the Joe team is still commanded by Hawk, who is groomed for future greatness, so he’s been given the best soldiers and sexiest and most impressive enemy to target. Being the man to take down COBRA Commander, and his organization is more impressive copy than taking down some crackpot wearing facepaint and a belly shirt. Because of this, Stalker is Hawk’s field commander, since he knows the tricks to get things done, yet is still a consummate professional. So if things go bad, Stalker knows the proper way to handle them with the least negative press.

I think both the first story with the Oktober Guard, and the Borovia storyline in the comic book were important aspects in developing that part of the Stalker character in my mind. He was portrayed as a professional, so that always stuck with me more than the Gang Lord or Vietnam War vet aspect of the character.


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8 Responses to 1983 Stalker

  1. Mike T. says:

    Stalker is my 2nd favorite original 13 member after Clutch. All the reasons you mentioned captured my eye in October of 1982. At $100+ for a good one these days, though, I’m pretty resigned to using the excellent 1997 figure for the character, though. The hands and heels of the original are just too brittle.

    I never thought about different years being different teams. That’s interesting and allows for some dynamic completion between the factions, too. A group of high achievers always has unhealthy competition and this is an unexplored realm of the Joe team.

    I miss dio stories in the way I miss forums. You could have a written conversation that could carry on for a while. It wasn’t just “buy my stuff!” or “is this yellow figure a variant?!” with two comments and then a bunch of hucksters trying to be funny. The days of the civilized Joe community (and, maybe, online community in general) have passed. Creators had an audience where they got real feedback. I still feel that some characters in early dio-stories remain popular today because the authors used them two decades ago.

  2. generalliederkranz says:

    Stalker is awesome. His filecard to me seems like a rare failing by Larry Hama–the character he created in the comics is far more interesting and believeable, and less stereotypical, than the card. It’s the opposite of some of the later characters where the card hints at cool characters but Hama didn’t have time to develop them so they’re just one-dimensional in the comics. I agree the original Oktober Guard and Borovia plotlines are among Stalker’s best. I’d add his recurring role as team leader in Special Missions, and in Benzheen.

    The idea of two teams is intriguing, both for good guys and bad guys. Two teams of good guys would introduce all kinds of fascinating complexity and maybe rivalries that doesn’t show up in the canonical media. For me, I couldn’t divide things that way becuase the 82s just seem a little too bland on their own and I can’t overlook the missing specialties. Adding in just one or two 83s or 84s to a group of swivel-arm originals livens things up and fills holes. I probably see them this way since I came on the scene much later, and never had any memories of the 82s on their own.

    Having been out of the collecting community for about a decade, I really miss the old forums. I wasn’t too active, but there were people to talk to, and trades seemed easier (now it seems like the only trades are an afterthought for claim sales, or else they’re just for extremely high-value mint items–I recall routinely trading common stuff, and everybody had want and trade lists ready to send out). The forums also allowed an easily searchable database of communal knowledge. Facebook groups, let alone Instagram and Twitter, are so hard to search that people ask the same basic questions over and over again, and answers are only useful for that one person; they don’t live on forever as contributions to community knowledge.

  3. A-Man says:

    I miss the political commentary of old dio-stories. Now all we get is occasional references to “gun nuts” and….
    I liked that one guy SerpyMatt, I think, who’d skip the long form dios and just make scenes taken from movies with Joe characters. Better than Mary Sue/Marty Stu characters anyway. I wanted to do a mockery of such stories, but I was lazy and lacked talent. Oh, well.

    Stalker as a character was Preacher McPreachy man, but not religion but maybe Hama’s beliefs. Hama used to be more grounded. Then IDW gave him free reign to continue ARAH, and he has a domestic terrorist attack on DC foiled by the US military as a backstory for Cobra worming its way into…OMG. Hama predicted it all!

    Stalker’s name unfortunately hurts him for media usage. The average person (i.e. not toy nuts) hears “STALKER” and assumes this dude is a predator of women.

  4. mwnekoman says:

    Stalker is probably the best ’82/83 Joe. Whereas most of those figures struggle to provide anything unique, Stalker is a black guy with a new head, who wears a beret and vibrant camouflage. It’s enough that it easily puts him over Snake Eyes, though I doubt I’d feel the same if they had just recycled Hawk or Breaker’s head again.

    I didn’t know the Pulverizer was based on a real gun, but then again, as I’ve dug through various Joe guns from later years, I’ve discovered that more of them were based on real world guns than I would have imagined. I always liked it since it seemed like an easy gun for figures to hold.

    I genuinely hope social media fades away in the coming years and people slowly migrate back to forums. The internet used to be so much more of a content rich place, but now it’s mainly a sandbox for a handful of giant companies. Trying to provide self-hosted content is a miserable struggle too, especially when Google decides that random expired eBay auctions and ads for Walmart are more relevant to any niche GI Joe search than blogs with tons of information on them.

  5. paint-wipes says:

    one thing i always enjoyed about stalker is through his various releases as the line wound on there was a visible aging process. now this is likely a result of advances in sculpting and design but the line is full of tiny signifiers that -someone- is paying attention. in 1982 he’s in his early 30’s, vietnam is a recent bad memory and joint special forces programs are a new arrival on the scene, by the late 80’s hes a bit more grizzled and fuller in the face, a near decade of top secret wetwork and counter terrorism has taken its toll. by the time 1994 rolls around he’s been in the system for nearly 30 years, he’s a tad bit rounder but one of the best in his profession and has adopted a full commando look head to toe, and now the clean straightforward military look and the clean straightforward military itself has been erased completely.

    i always thought that the M-32 was supposed to resemble a M3 grease gun somewhat, they were favorites of vietnam green berets, which stalkers original design is clearly based on.

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